Incredibly Delicious Made From Scratch Do Nothing Cake Recipe

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Do Nothing Cake, a recipe for pineapple cake made from scratch cake with boiled coconut pecan frosting that is as easy as it is delicious!

It feels like forever since I have shared a recipe here, but it hasn’t been because I have been neglecting my blog, quite the opposite actually! I was having some big issues with my recipe plugin (the thingy that gives you the ability to print my recipes, and Google the information it needs to know it is a recipe).  I have logged a ton of hours manually converting recipes and doing other little tweaks on my site.

So how about we jump back in with a super easy recipe? One that is so ridiculously easy, it is actually called Do Nothing Cake, and yeah, it is pretty darn delicious too!

Slice of Do Nothing Cake on a vintage white plate.
This is the cake you find at church potlucks, family picnics, and holiday BBQs, and it seems folks either love it, leave it. There are two kinds of cake eaters; those who like a light, fine-crumbed, delicate affair, and those who like a substantial cake, that is dense and moist. Do Nothing Cake is definitely for the latter.

If you have made a poke cake before, you are probably familiar with how this cake becomes so moist and dense. The syrupy part of the topping made of butter, sugar and evaporated milk, is soaked into the cake while it is still hot. We help this process out a little by poking holes halfway through the cake using a skewer or meat fork. While the syrupy part of the topping absorbs into the cake, the coconut and pecans remain on top almost like a frosting. It really is a thing of beauty.
Top view of Do Nothing Cake slice topping, with coconut and pecan glaze

Do Nothing Cake Recipe?

So, the name of this cake is a little odd. Rest assured, this is a cake made from scratch. It seems to date back to the 1940’s when there were few shortcuts in the way of prepackaged mixes to help out when baking a cake. Lazy Daisy Cake is another, very similar cake with an odd moniker from the time period. A cake with only 7 ingredients and a topping that can be cooked up on the stove in about 5 minutes would have felt like a cheater cake. In fact, even today this cake seems as simple to mix up as a boxed cake mix, it doesn’t seem likely that you can make such an incredibly delicious cake in such a short amount of time, but this easy recipe will not let you down.

Close up view of a slice of vintage recipe Do Nothing Cake

And no, I didn’t omit any ingredients in the recipe! There is no butter or oil or any kind of fat in the cake batter, but there is crushed pineapple, which seems to have been a trend that started around the Great Depression.  Aside from providing the liquids for the cake, the pineapple combines with the coconut flavor in the topping to create a slightly tropical cake.
9 x 13 pan of Do Nothing Cake on a checkered tablecloth

Do Nothing Cake Recipe

Do Nothing Cake Recipe

Yield: 20
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Do Nothing Cake is a delicious made from scratch vintage cake recipe.  The cake seems to date back to the 1940's when there were few shortcuts in the way of prepackaged mixes to help the home baker. This cake recipe with only 7 ingredients and a topping that can be cooked up on the stove in about 5 minutes would have felt incredibly easy and timesaving at the time.



  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large can (20 Oz) crushed pineapple with juice


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 cup shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, Whisk together all the batter ingredients until just combined.
  3. Pour into the prepared 13×9 baking dish, and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick, inserted in the middle comes out clean. Don't overbake.
  4. While cake is still baking, prepare the topping. Heat the butter, sugar, and evaporated milk in a small saucepan until boiling.
  5. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
  6. Remove from heat and add in the coconut, pecans, and vanilla.
  7. Remove the cake from oven, and poke the cake every inch or so with the handle of wooden spoon or tines of meat fork halfway into cake. This allows the hot topping to evenly absorb into the cake.
  8. Pour the topping over the hot cake, spreading it out to make sure it’s all evenly dispersed.
  9. Allow cake to cool for a bit before cutting.
Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 1 small square
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 292Total Fat: 11.6gSaturated Fat: 5.1gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 123mgCarbohydrates: 45.7gFiber: 1.6gSugar: 34.8gProtein: 3.3g

Slice of Do Nothing Cake on a vintage plate, and cake in a 9x13 pan in background

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  1. Making this again bookmarked now, due to such a positive response. Tasty cake, I was dogging on it by myself. Then people must of smelled it, shared the rest. Now I be making it again.

  2. I was very skeptical of this recipe because I’ve had some bad experiences trying to incorporate pineapple into my baked goods. I found out recently that an enzyme in raw pineapple can make jam not set and cakes to not rise. Canned is fine. I cut the recipe in half like another reviewer mentioned and when it came together i knew if was too wet so added an extra 1/2 cup flour, threw in a quarter cup brown sugar and some extra baking soda. I thought I was doomed but the cake came out nice and high with a beautiful golden top. I poured the frosting over while it was hot and I have to tell you it is delicious. Oh, so sweet (did I mention I subbed sweetened condensed milk (cut with whole milk) – super sweet and gooey and crunchy and nutty. I may have burned my tongue because I couldn’t wait to eat more! Go figure! Thanks for an amazing recipe!

  3. The saddest thing happened today….
    I made the cake and had a little sample as I’m making which by the way delicious. And I was making this for a get together with some family. I’m all ready and I’m walking out the door trying to fish out my keys and holding the pan . Bam! Cake just toppled out of my hands and onto to the dirt ……..
    So i don’t know how I feel right now .
    But thought I’d share my journey making this lovely dessert.

    1. Oh No!! I am so sorry that happened. I once had a cake topple in the trunk of my car on the way to a gathering, I was so upset! I had to stop and buy a store-bought cake on the way to the party. I know exactly how you feel!

    1. It is an incredibly moist cake, and I always err to the side of refrigeration especially in the summer. The topping will stiffen up once the cake chills, but you can take it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

  4. Great recipe! I didn’t have quite enough pineapple, so added a bit of water; also subbed table cream for the evap. milk, since that is what I had on hand. Halfed the recipe since it’s just the two of us here now, and IT WAS GREAT! Thanks so much!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It sounds delicious. Odd question.. is there any way to make this cake without the pineapples and pineapple juice, just as a sort of plain yellow cake? I am new to baking and am not sure if this possible or what amount of liquid to substitute in place of the pineapple juice. I really appreciate the help. Thank you.

  6. An excellent recipe. I made this for a Church fellowship and it was raved over. Thank you for a delicious recipe.

    1. I’m so happy to hear that, Maria! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your fantastic review!

  7. Jennifer, I am making this cake today for my daughter’s birthday. I knew from the moment I saw it on your blog it was a “must make”!

    1. @Eileen, My mom used to make this cake and it was called a pineapple square cake. I cannot wait to make it again